April 30, 2011

Short Story- 20

‘PRANKS FOR SALE’- the board outside the shop in Creek street read.

Old Mrs.Banham dusted the shop windows, trying to poof away the cobwebs that miraculously sprung up every morning. It was probably from the ancient street where a million spiders lived in peaceful unity.

Dust, the thickness of a ‘Complete Works of Shakespeare’, had settled on the road. People rarely came in there. “Unless they knew what they wanted,” as Mrs.Banham would say, her gray eyes gleaming for just an instant!

Old Mrs.Banham, with her frail figure, a set of pearlies she doused in Listerine every night and a mop of fluffy white hair, was not the kind you’d ever suspect would giggle if a Fartalot were to be snuck below your cushion. Neither did she appear like the kind who would clap with glee if you were hit by the Invisible SneezyWheezy. But she was very much the kind who would do both, with a ‘Mischief Managed’ sort of grin on her face.

Little childish pranks she brewed in her tiny workspace behind the shop. Her thin elbows exactly knew how not to move and set off a pile of AngelicallyAbusingChild keychains. Mrs.Banham also knew that in the secrecy of the forgotten street was the safety and success of her pranks.

Mrs.Banham was that lady who secretly dropped an Evaporating Chuckle pellet into your handbag if you looked upset. She would also carefully dust the finest WailingWeeper dust into your eyes if you were rude.

But the biggest prank she ever played was on herself. When she brewed MakeBelieveMojo on that fateful day when she turned thirty-two.

Thirty-two. That was exactly how many cockroaches she had to collect. Tears streaming with the rain and running in muddy streaks on to the gutter.

She sliced them. One after another. The prothorax aside, the abdomen beside it. In two neat rows of sixteen each. Honey warmed to feel like a cat’s paw. A teardrop. Three petals of the marigold raised on a bed of dead maple leaves. And a trickle of the glistening purple powder. Mix and heat till it turns black. Dark as thoughts. Dark as reality. Into that which would change reality. Prank her into believing whatever she wished to.

To become a widowed, successful lady, content with life, and with no memory of the past she wanted to erase.

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Maira Gall